Tesla (TSLA) Q1 2021 earnings: What to expect

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) will hold its first-quarter earnings call after Monday’s trading, and the expectations are pretty high. Following a blowout Q1 that saw the company completely decimate Wall Street’s expected vehicle deliveries, expectations are now high that the EV maker would post record-breaking numbers for its record-setting quarter. 

The following are Wall Street’s expectations for Tesla’s Q1 2021 earnings, as well as a number of crucial metrics that TSLA investors should watch out for. 


Wall Street currently expects Tesla to report non-GAAP earnings per share (EPS) of $0.79 in the first quarter. This is quite impressive, and it represents a year-over-year surge of 216%. Tesla’s EPS stood at a relatively conservative $0.23 in Q1 2020. However, it was very impressive in Q4 2020, when the company posted an EPS of $0.80. 

As for Tesla’s Q1 2021 revenue, the consensus forecast for the quarter currently stands at $10.29 billion. This estimate is quite optimistic, as it represents a year-over-year increase of 72%. In comparison, Tesla’s revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $10.74 billion. 

For the first quarter, Tesla delivered a total of 184,800 vehicles comprised of 182,780 Model 3 and Model Y and 2,020 Model S and Model X. This corresponded to a 109% year-over-year rise and a 2.2% sequential growth. Overall vehicle production for Q1 2021 stood at 180,338. 


Considering that automotive gross margin slipped to 24.1% in Q4 2020 from 27.7% in the previous quarter, it is likely that Tesla could see some more moderation in margins for the first quarter. This is likely affected by the halt in the company’s production and deliveries of the flagship Model S and Model X, both of which have undergone extensive refreshes. 

Regulatory credits would likely play a factor in Tesla’s Q1 2021 numbers as well. In the fourth quarter of 2020, regulatory credits accounted for 4.2% of Tesla’s revenues. It would then be interesting to see if the EV maker has made more this time around, considering that legacy automakers are still struggling with their shift to sustainable transportation. 

Tesla has not provided a specific vehicle delivery estimate for 2021 so far. Considering the company’s strong first-quarter results, however, it would not be surprising if Tesla ends up providing a refined delivery forecast for 2021. In 2020, Tesla’s vehicle deliveries grew 36% to 499,647, and this year, Elon Musk and CFO Zach Kirkhorn have remarked that the company could see an annual growth of 50% or more.  


Tesla stock has seen some headwinds as of late, likely due to some negative coverage from China and a crash in Texas that seemed to be erroneously connected to Autopilot. That being said, TSLA shares still closed Friday up 1.35% at $729.40. Overall, while Tesla has fallen as much as 40% since its all-time high of $900.40 in late January, the EV maker has since regained over 25% of its loss. 

Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call will be held on Monday, April 26, 2021, at 2:30 pm Pacific Time or 5:30 pm Eastern Time. Tesla’s Q1 2021 Update Letter would be released sometime after markets close on Monday. 

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